When the Twins announced Wednesday that they were spending $4 million to $6 million for various Target Field enhancements, fans had to wonder if that money would be better spent on pitching.
But after a big year at the box office, team executives kept talking about their commitment to improving both on and off the field.
"The payroll is going to go up," team president Dave St. Peter said, though he declined to give an estimate.
The Twins spent about $101 million on payroll last year, breaking their franchise record by nearly $30 million. But even if all 10 of their free agents leave (Carl Pavano, Jim Thome, etc.), their remaining players could combine to earn about $105 million next year, with several in line for big raises.
Last year, only six major league teams had an Opening Day payroll above $120 million: the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies, Mets and Tigers.
Twins CEO Jim Pohlad said the team will continue to spend an average of 50 percent of its revenues on payroll. That same philosophy was there in the Metrodome, but revenues have grown significantly.
"We don't take it for granted," St. Peter said. "We're all tremendously appreciative of the support but we also know we need to keep moving forward. We need to keep moving forward on the field, and frankly, we need to keep doing everything possible to make Target Field the best ballpark it can be."
The new right field scoreboard, the 100-foot "Twins Tower," the additional Kasota Stone and other new touches will all be funded from team coffers. This, after the Pohlad family approved $50 million in enhancements before the ballpark opened.
"We had a good year financially, so we're giving some of it back," Pohlad said. "It's all part of trying to make the fan experience better."
And the Twins know the fan experience is heavily influenced by results on the field. The Twins won 94 games and secured their sixth division title in nine seasons but made their fifth consecutive first-round playoff exit.
"Our fans need to know we want to do better," said Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc.Mauer update
Twins catcher Joe Mauer said in a conference call that winning his third Gold Glove Award ranks right up there with other honors in his career.
Mauer threw out 26 percent of base stealers, the same percentage as last season, committed only three errors again and trimmed his number of passed balls from nine to four.
"It was a tough year for me physically," Mauer said. "I had some injuries I had to deal with early in the season, and I think any baseball player knows that if you have something early in the season, you're going to pretty much have to deal with it all year."
Mauer, 27, won't be having surgery but said his body is still healing. Still, the wear and tear didn't push him any closer toward a position change.
"I know it's going to happen at some point," he said. "But hopefully it's a lot later than sooner."